Warming spices and sweet orange come together in this Orange Spice Cake! It’s a single layer cake filled with comforting fall spices and flecks of orange zest, all topped with a thick layer of orange cream cheese frosting. You’ll love this one for the holidays or as a year-round dessert!
There’s just something about the subtle flavour of orange in baked goods. Whether it’s cakes, cookies or muffins, orange is a citrus I love to bake with!
This cake has a rich spice flavour that contrasts perfectly with the sweet orange frosting. While you can serve the cake without frosting, and just a light dusting of powdered sugar, I highly recommend giving the frosting a try!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Easy single layer cake recipe. It’s simple to make and can easily be doubled to make a layer cake.
- Warm and cozy vibes. This is the ultimate cozy cake with comforting fall spices and a hint of fresh, sweet orange.
- Snack cake or fancy dessert. This cake is simple enough to enjoy as a snack cake with a cup of coffee or to serve at your next dinner party.
- Dairy-free and vegan. The cream cheese frosting is made with vegan cream cheese and butter, but the recipe can easily be made non-vegan too!
Details on a few ingredients
Spices – The spice blend that makes this cake so aromatic includes 1 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Cloves have a strong flavour and really stand out in this cake.
Oranges – There’s freshly squeezed orange juice and zest in the cake and in the frosting. In order to get enough zest and juice, you’ll need about 2-3 large oranges.
Cream cheese – To keep this cake vegan, you’ll need vegan cream cheese, which has a similar texture and tanginess to regular cream cheese. I used Earth’s Own cream cheese style spread in this recipe. (Not sponsored, just my preferred brand).
Butter – Butter is blended with the cream cheese to make the frosting. Again, we’re using vegan butter here, but you can substitute non-vegan if you prefer. For making vegan frostings, I’ve been using Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks. (Not sponsored, just my preferred brand).
Powdered sugar – This helps sweeten and thicken the cream cheese frosting. You can add more if you like a thicker and sweeter frosting. Be sure to sift it if it’s lumpy.
What is orange zest?
Orange zest is the outer skin on an orange peel. It’s used to add citrus flavour to savoury dishes and baked goods.
You can zest an orange by zesting or finely grating the outer orange peel. While you can use a microplane zester, I just normally use the small holes on my box grater.
Before zesting an orange, thoroughly wash and dry the orange. (If it’s wet, the zest will be clumpy). I always like to zest oranges when they’re cold, as they tend to be firmer and this makes them easier to grate.
Make sure you only zest/grate the outer orange peel. The white pith underneath the skin is bitter, so you don’t want to include this.
How to make orange spice cake
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, spices, baking soda and salt.
Add in the milk, orange juice, zest, oil and vanilla and stir until just combined. Don’t over mix.
Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch round pan and bake for 25-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
How to make vegan orange cream cheese frosting
Bring your butter to room temperature so it can easily cream together with the cream cheese.
Add the cream cheese and butter to a mixing bowl, and use an electric mixer to beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
Mix in the orange juice and zest, then gradually add the powdered sugar until the frosting reaches your desired thickness and sweetness.
Make ahead and freezing instructions
You can make this cake 1-2 days in advance, leave it unfrosted and store it in an airtight container on the counter. When ready to serve, make the frosting and top the cake.
You can store the unfrosted cake in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just let it cool completely, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container or resealable freezer bag before freezing it.
Leftover pieces of the frosted cake also freeze well. Just place the pieces in a single layer in an airtight container and freeze for 1-2 months. Defrost in the fridge before enjoying.
- While the recipe calls for unsweetened almond milk, you can also use cashew milk or dairy milk for a non-vegan cake.
- If you don’t have coconut sugar, brown sugar can be used as a substitute in this cake.
- You can use non-vegan cream cheese and butter if you don’t need the frosting to be vegan.
- Instead of the cream cheese frosting, you can use a vegan buttercream recipe or this chocolate avocado frosting.
Frequently asked questions
This recipe was made in a 9-inch round cake pan. If you use an 8-inch round pan, it will be too much batter for the pan and the cake may sink in the middle. If you don’t have a 9-inch round pan, try baking the cake in an 8-inch square pan, as it’s more comparable in size.
I’ve only tested this recipe with freshly squeezed orange juice. If you use store-bought, just check for added sugars. Sweetened orange juice may make the cake too sweet.
I’ve only tested this orange spice cake with whole wheat flour. It’s more absorbent than all-purpose white flour, so to make the substitution you would need to adjust the ratio of wet and dry ingredients.
If you softened the cream cheese at room temperature this could lead to runny frosting. It could also be a result of not enough powdered sugar in the frosting, which helps to thicken it, or too much orange juice in the frosting. You should also make sure your cake is cooled completely before spreading the frosting on. If the cake is warm, the frosting will melt.
If the cake is left unfrosted, just store it in airtight container on the counter. If it’s frosted, it should be stored in the fridge.
The unfrosted cake will last at room temperature for 4-5 days. Once frosted, the cake will last in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Key recipe tips
- Measuring flour. Spoon and level the flour to ensure you use the correct quantity for this recipe.
- Bake at 325F. If you bake the cake at a higher temperature, the top will bake quicker than the middle of the cake and start to crack.
- Opening the oven door. If you open the oven door too soon to check on the cake, the cake may sink in the middle.
- Fresh spices. Since the spices are a prominent ingredient in this cake, for the best results, ensure your spices are fresh.
- Cream cheese. While you need to bring the butter to room temperature for the frosting, it’s important that you keep the vegan cream cheese cold. If it’s brought to room temperature, the frosting may turn out runny.
More spice cake recipes
- Apple Spice Cake with Buttercream Frosting
- Chai Cake with Orange Cardamom Frosting
- Pumpkin Snack Cake with Chocolate Ganache
If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!Print
Orange Spice Cake is filled with warming fall spices and flecks of orange zest, all topped with a thick layer of orange cream cheese frosting!
For the cake:
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, spooned and levelled
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- 4 ounces vegan cream cheese
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 2 1/2 – 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
- Preheat oven to 325F and grease a 9-inch round pan.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, spices, baking soda and salt.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the milk, orange juice, oil, zest and vanilla. Stir until just combined. Don’t over mix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the frosting, add the cream cheese and butter to a mixing bowl, and use an electric mixer to cream together until smooth.
- Mix in the orange juice and zest, then gradually add the powdered sugar until the frosting reaches your desired thickness and sweetness.
- Spread the frosting on the cooled cake and store in the fridge until ready to slice and serve.
- I used Earth’s Own vegan cream cheese style spread and Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks. (Not sponsored, just prefer the texture of both of these products for vegan frostings).
- For the best frosting consistency, bring the vegan butter to room temperature but keep the vegan cream cheese cold.
- If you don’t need this cake to be vegan, you can use regular cream cheese and butter (both brought to room temperature).
- To get enough freshly squeezed orange juice and zest for the cake and frosting, you’ll need 2-3 large oranges.
- If you like your cream cheese frosting sweeter and thicker, feel free to add more powdered sugar.
- Be sure to check out the other sections above the recipe card for more detailed advice and suggestions for making this recipe.
Keywords: spice cake, vegan spice cake